It has been 25 years since Iowa last played in the historic Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California but they will do so to finish the 2015 regular season. The Hawkeyes take on Stanford on January 1, 2016 and it is the first Rose Bowl appearance for Kirk Ferentz since he took over as head coach. He had been before as an assistant.
It is just another notch in the fabulous career for Ferentz since he took over the controls in Iowa City.
"The Rose Bowl is something Iowa has a history win," Hawkeyes' athletic director Gary Barta said. "Most important to me is our players. I watched the environment they were able to participate in in Indianapolis. That was a great thrill for our players even though it was not the outcome we wanted. This is another one of those moments. I'm thrilled our players get to experience something that's been historic and traditional for the Big Ten and Pac-12."
"One of the things I'm so excited about is in Kir's tenure, he's been a Big Ten Coach of the Year four times, National Coach of the Year, and has won numerous bowl games, and this year he's added to that legacy with a 12-0 record and a west championship. This is one of the things that I'm so glad as part of his legacy he gets the chance to bring the Iowa Hawkeyes to the Rose Bowl."
He's put together quite the accolades since his time with the Hawkeyes but the Rose Bowl will always leave that lasting impression because of the glory and tradition that comes with participating in that bowl game. However, Ferentz is more happy that his players get to experience 'The Granddaddy of Them All'.
"It really hasn't sunk in, quite honestly," Ferentz shared a day after falling to Michigan State in the Big Ten Conference Title but quickly finding out they had been awarded an invitation to the Rose Bowl. "But, just having a little time to think about it here, it's been 30 years on the button since the last time I was there. We lost to UCLA. I remember coming back to the hotel, I was kind of down in the dumps and my wife king of put me back and in shape, she has a way of doing that. Reminding me what a great year it was, even though it was a tough loss."
"My first year as assistant, we were fortunate to go out there and play," he added. "And then the year after I left 25 years ago, they were there, too. So to your point, we thought we were going for sure in 2002. Everyone thought we were going, it didn't work out. So, to finally get that invitation, it's really special. We're really excited, but most of all I'm excited for our players."
Ferentz may be excited for his players but his captains expressed their joy in being the first team to send him to Pasadena as a head coach.
"I'm sure that's been something he's been wanting to do for a while," quarterback C.J. Beathard noted. "I'm glad we can do that for him. I'm glad we can do that for this team. It is a very special team with these guys. We're happy we can do that for Coach Ferentz. He's been here a while and never coached a Rose Bowl team. We hope we get that win on January 1 and make it even better for him."
"It's an historic game," Beathard continued. "It's an honor to be able to play in this game."
"It feels really good (to send Ferentz to the Rose Bowl)," lineman Austin Blythe pointed out. "I imagine we'll be one of those teams he references for a while. At the same, we have to finish a great season. It would be a shame not to go out there and play our best football."
"It feels good," Drew Ott mentioned about Kirk Ferentz's first Rose Bowl trip as head coach. "All the hard work is paying off. We've been listening to him and believing in his words. He got us here."